A backyard pool project that waited decades to come to life finally manifested beautifully for an Overland Park family.
Story by Andrea Darr | Photos by Matt Kocourek
When Carol and Rich Smith first moved into their Links at Lionsgate house years ago, the idea of installing a pool sounded refreshing yet terrifying.
“Our kids were very young, and the idea of having a pool made us too nervous,” Carol recalls. “Plus, at that time, going to the neighborhood pool was fun for the kids, as all their friends were there.”
Ten years ago, the couple hired an architect to create a backyard outdoor living environment that included a bar/grill area, fireplace, fire pit, hot tub and a fountain — but no pool.
As time progressed some more, the idea of a pool surfaced yet again. Neighbors who had had good experiences with installations referred the Smiths to Banks Pool & Spa.
The couple had plenty of inspirations but were unsure of exactly what they needed and relied on father and son co-owners Roger and Hoyt Banks to lead the way.
“Hoyt had great ideas and took the time to figure out what would work best,” Carol says.
Their No. 1 priority was to maintain the view of the golf course; everything else was up for reconsideration.
“Even though we previously had a nice backyard living space, it did not fit with our pool design,” Carol says. “Therefore, we pretty much started from scratch with the exception of our grill/bar area.”
Hoyt’s first set of plans included a freeform-shaped pool, but as digging day drew near, the Smiths had a change of heart.
“They realized the architecture of the house lends itself better to a geometric pool,” Hoyt says.
He swiftly straightened out the lines, but maintained curves in other elements, also seen in the architecture of the house, such as archways and a semi-circle upper-level balcony.
“We really like symmetry and having things balanced,” explains Carol, whose design style has been evolving recently. “We have been updating the interior of our house to a more transitional look, with straighter and simpler lines, so we wanted to incorporate that look outside, as well.”
To balance straight lines and curves, Hoyt integrated a subtle circular theme into various elements of the project: the radius stair, the lower patio’s edging and the fire pit.
He capped the head of the pool with a stone wall featuring three waterfalls, backlit by LED lighting and softened by landscaping, also lit for nighttime enhancement.
An 8’ x 4’ offshoot from the main pool leads to the spa, with its own cascade of water spilling over, plus a three-step-up raised patio with chairs overlooking the golf course green.
A custom, one-of-a-kind radius stair made of solid concrete with wrought iron spindles and LED lighting at the posts rises to the house’s main-level balcony and doubles as an eight-foot-tall privacy wall. A storage room underneath stores all the pool toys and equipment.
On the other side of the house, Hoyt revised the guest’s side entry from the driveway with some green space and a higher-end look. “It really gives a preview of the backyard,” he says.
The one area the Smiths decided to keep from their first project was a bar/grill area tucked under the balcony, yet it needed work, too.
“They had a nice existing patio underneath — but with drainage issues,” Hoyt says.
As an engineer, Rich was concerned about the problem and had it addressed with a few renovations.
Hoyt rebuilt a rotted bar from the inside out to keep the stone fascia standing, and added a granite countertop. He also demoed the fiberglass spa, redid the fireplace, updated a gas line, stained the cabinets and added a slate tile floor — with a curved transition to the pool patio.
Equally important as the lines, material choices played a key role in tying everything into a neat package. Brick and stone, as seen on the house, became the natural building blocks of the hardscape. Travertine was also used in areas for its clean aesthetic — and, together, the clients and contractor went to handpick the slabs to select the perfect matching beige.
Carol was also drawn to flagstone. “She liked the look of flagstone but not all over,” Hoyt notes. So he incorporated its natural edges within the bounds of the fire pit circle, as well as in the sun ledge in the pool.
While the pool is straight-lined, it is not straight-laced: “We wanted the pool to be a fun place, so we added a basketball goal and volleyball net,” Carol adds.
There are also several water features: LED bubblers, deck jets and laminars that spray from the sides of the pool into the middle, along with light displays that change colors.
“I think it is especially pretty at night when we have all these things going on,” Carol adds.
The project’s overall effect is a refined hardscape that matches the elegance of the house and the manicured landscape of the greens.
“Everything we designed here was analyzed to the nth degree,” Hoyt says.
The project was so well-planned and executed that, even after all the changes, additions and years that have passed since the couple first dreamed of a backyard pool, it appears to be built at the same time as the house.
It is a place of pride for the Smith family, as well as a fabulous venue to entertain. The couple enjoys hosting intimate gatherings with friends, as well as entertaining on a large scale — over 150 people at a graduation party!
Whether it’s dipping a toe in the water after work on a Tuesday or fully diving in on Friday night, they are finally experiencing the benefits of a backyard pool.
The objective has come full circle.
“Having teenagers now, it is so great to have a place where their friends like to come over and hang out,” Carol smiled.
Pool: Banks Pool & Spa
Landscaping: New Leaf Landscaping